Gestalt is one of the humanistic psychologies, which looks at ‘the whole’ therefore everything is taken into consideration. Whatever is figural in the moment is important, meaning that I am able to work with fluidity and ‘go with the flow’ which enables me to change my attention to follow my client’s exploration.
I aim to work in a non-directive, non-judgemental and non-analytical way within a dialogic relationship that will develop with trust, honesty and openness, the foundation that contains and supports my work. This is aided by the knowledge that confidentiality is upheld and respected.
I believe the therapeutic ‘space’ between myself and my client is where the movement and change takes place, synonymous to a ‘dance’ between my client and me as separate individuals, yet gently developing to an experience of a co-created relationship.
My main work is in Primary and Secondary schools as a School Counsellor. Children have an organic need to be seen and heard which if not met, may result in fixed gestalts that will need attention later in life. In the counselling time they have the opportunity to recognise their own needs and may develop self-supportive skills. My approach in working with young people is by making a trustworthy relationship, therefore they safely practice a contact that they perhaps have not experienced before and can learn to be more aware of themselves in a relationship. They can become aware of their differences, polarities and find where they feel comfortable in the middle ground, gently learning to take self-responsibility. It is then they can recognise satisfaction with the self-realisation that they are ‘good enough’. The summation of all these parts increases awareness to change and enables the shift in relation to themselves and their environment.
To enable this to take place I work in a phenomenological way, observation of what is happening in this moment - physically, emotionally, spiritually and intellectually, within my awareness of what else is happening in their lives, both for my client and myself. I do not work in a vacuum, but take consideration of the wider contextual factors, including legal, medical and ethical issues, to enable the whole picture to emerge.
I use a variety of interventions to enable and empower clients to talk, explore and share their fears and thoughts. The mediums I use can vary from playing with words, stories and metaphor, using paper and pens to going for a walk; from music to using clay or sand; from talking to sitting in silence - the aim being to raise awareness, highlight choices, facilitate change or provide a quiet, reflective time which can lead to fuller acceptance. Working in the ‘here and now’ suits young people, who often show an immediacy in the present. Each intervention will be graded to suit the age and level of awareness of the individual client, in response to my client’s needs, which will inform me what, is right for them in that moment. This can range from noticing something about them that moved me, to any of the interventions above. They also know that I am there with them listening, being empathic and understanding.
At a therapeutic level, if a learned pattern of behaviour becomes stuck it may result in the client reinforcing their fixed gestalt, thereby perpetuating a psychological problem. Each session is a cycle in itself; it has a beginning, middle and an ending. This informs part of the pattern where clients can make order out of chaos or when there is unfinished business, then they can explore the possibility of changing their usual actions.
There is a difference in working with adults in as much that adults may work from the present to their past or childhood, depending on what their concern maybe at the time. In our lives we (as adults) have a few more layers of learned behaviour gathered from parents, siblings, school, peers, relationships, work, marriages – general life experiences which make us who we are and how we have learned to be this person.
I truly believe that young people come with ‘anti-bullshit antennae’ and they deserve a respectful relationship based on recognition and honesty - which is really all we can ask from each other.